Skip to main content

Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

See other formats

ble that many resources will lose significance in the future, particularly as changes in relative prices influence the impetus toward substitution. Finally, there is every reason to believe that the final third of the 20th century will witness a great improvement in recycling of waste and thus depress the demand for new material, as well as open to question the conventional supply-demand resource balances.
Resources and Trade
The effects of rapid population growth on postwar world trade have been substantial and, on the whole, adverse to the developing countries. Among these effects have been steady erosion of exportable surpluses (i.e., surpluses in a market sense, not surpluses over amounts that would be required to provide satisfactory levels of living for everybody regardless of ability to pay) and the transformation of many less developed countries from large net exporters to large net importers, especially of food.
This transformation was due primarily to the fact that rising demands for food were not matched by proportionate increases in production. It took place not because larger portions of domestic production went into improved consumption levels, but because rapidly rising numbers of people had to be supplied with basic requirements, with little improvement in per capita quantity or quality of production. Unhappily it also coincided with the emergence of competing—generally man-made—materials developed in the industrialized countries. There was a reduction in the size of export markets for such commodities as rubber, fats and oil, fibers, leather, etc.; and the potential for substitution has by no means been exhausted.
The last few years, however, have opened up a different prospect. Recent advances in the agricultural performance of several less developed countries, briefly mentioned earlier, are altogether likely—perhaps by the mid-1970's— to produce commercial surpluses of food, especially grains. The Philippines is the first country to move into this situation. Pakistan hopes to join soon, as do others. To the extent that they do, the immediate effect—though dampened by the outlays for fertilizer, other chemicals, machinery, etc. required to achieve the new levels of output-can relieve the hitherto adverse trade and foreign exchange situations of those countries if donor-nation aid policies and competition are favorable.
The volume of future grain exports will depend upon the extent to which governments will want, or be able, to favor exports over domestic consumption of either grain or animal products. This policy involves not only efforts to supplement the purchasing power of the poor but also an account of the effect of increasing urbanization on food demand. The expected effect of urbanization is increased demand on the organized food market, and eventu-